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Great Australian Train Trek

Program No. 3110RJ
Experience two of the world's most iconic train journeys as you traverse Australia by rail.

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DATES & starting prices
Feb 24 - Mar 21, 2024
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Mar 2 - Mar 28, 2024
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Oct 26 - Nov 21, 2024
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Nov 9 - Dec 5, 2024
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DATES & starting prices
Filling Fast!
Feb 24 - Mar 21, 2024
Starting at
Filling Fast!
Mar 2 - Mar 28, 2024
Starting at
Filling Fast!
Oct 26 - Nov 21, 2024
Starting at
Nov 9 - Dec 5, 2024
Starting at

At a Glance

Journeying by railway allows you to truly take in the vastness of Australia, the views out your window encompassing amazing natural beauty and fascinating human history. On an extraordinary four-week journey learn about the best this immense island continent has to offer.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to three miles at a time at a normal public walking pace over varied terrain. Standing at least three hours daily; climbing stairs (at times without handrails), getting on/off buses and boats, carrying own luggage. If you believe you require wheelchair assistance to get through an airport you are not fit enough to participate in this program.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Journey on Australia’s two iconic trains: the Indian Pacific across the Nullarbor Plain and the Ghan from Darwin to Alice Springs.
  • Enjoy a boat cruise through Kakadu National Park to view bird life.
  • Attend a performance at the Sydney Opera House.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
David O'Brien
Originally from the island state of Tasmania, Dave O’Brien has lived in North Queensland for more than 30 years. Working as a biologist almost his entire career, Dave has been involved in reptile research, aquaculture, government organizations, private enterprise and owning his own business. Outside of work, Dave’s interests include birding, photography and long-distance running. He has been married since 1986 and has two adult children, presently living in Melbourne, Australia and Alberta, Canada.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of David O'Brien
David O'Brien View biography
Originally from the island state of Tasmania, Dave O’Brien has lived in North Queensland for more than 30 years. Working as a biologist almost his entire career, Dave has been involved in reptile research, aquaculture, government organizations, private enterprise and owning his own business. Outside of work, Dave’s interests include birding, photography and long-distance running. He has been married since 1986 and has two adult children, presently living in Melbourne, Australia and Alberta, Canada.
Profile Image of Sue Grebenschikoff
Sue Grebenschikoff View biography
Sue Grebenschikoff is an instructor and site coordinator in Cairns. Originally from Sydney, Sue moved to Cairns 20 years ago after she fell in love with the tropical region. Sue has a bachelor’s degree in commerce with a concentration in marketing, is a keen gardener, and loves to travel and meet people. She has worked in various capacities for many years on award-winning wilderness adventure programs around tropical North Queensland.
Profile Image of Andrew Fitzgerald
Andrew Fitzgerald View biography
Andrew Fitzgerald is a keen astronomer with considerable experience presenting information on stars, planets, our solar system, and the galaxy to large groups. He regularly presents a session on the local radio station informing locals and visitors of current astronomical features and events. Andrew’s wealth of knowledge enhances sessions exploring the features of Southern Hemisphere skies.
Profile Image of Cherie Toovey
Cherie Toovey View biography
Equally comfortable in high heels or hiking boots, award-winning local expert Cherie Toovey has explored Western Australia in depth utilizing accommodations from luxury hotels to backcountry campsites. She regularly helps learners discover sites ranging from Rottnest Island, a conservation area on the seacoast noted for its quokkas (a rare marsupial species), to the Parliament House in Perth and the wine-producing Swan Valley. Cherie enjoys sharing her love of history and geography with Road Scholar program participants.
Profile Image of Rayleen Brown
Rayleen Brown View biography
Rayleen Brown is an Aboriginal who worked as a project officer to help Aboriginals secure their traditional land. She now owns and operates a successful catering business that’s been specializing in traditional bush products and foods for the past 10 years. In addition, Rayleen is a member of the national Bush Foods Council, an educator for schools across Central Australia and a mentor with the local Desert Leadership Program. She continues to be a strong advocate for the Aboriginal people to this day.
Profile Image of Michael Kidd
Michael Kidd View biography
Michael Kidd is a retired secondary school principal and teacher. After teaching mathematics at four Sydney high schools, he was appointed the principal of Hurlstone Agricultural High School, a school on 200 acres of farmland with 300 boarders, mostly from the country in New South Wales. He and his wife Robyn (also a retired secondary school principal and Road Scholar group leader) have traveled extensively with their two daughters. As group leader, Michael loves to share his passion for his homeland with Road Scholars.
Profile Image of Martin Ludgate
Martin Ludgate View biography
Martin Ludgate was a lecturer at Charles Darwin University in Alice Springs, where he lectured and managed the educational travel program. Now semi-retired (although still doing some lecturing and leading educational excursions), Martin has a keen interest in local history and culture as well as the landscapes, flora and fauna of the Northern Territory. “The great pleasure of enabling Road Scholar participants to bring alive their desire to experience a sense of Outback Australia, which they have heard so much about, makes my involvement so rewarding,” Martin says.
Profile Image of Ann Newman
Ann Newman View biography
A born and bred West Australian, having lived in Perth all her life, Ann Newman is passionate about West Australian bush, particularly the unique wildflowers. After beginning her botanical quest at the West Australia Herbarium she has spent 30 years in horticulture, cultivating native plants and lecturing on native plant cultivation in gardens. Ann started leading wildflower tours from Perth over 20 years ago and is still employed in this field. She has been involved with Kings Park for 30 years as a volunteer leader.
Profile Image of Mary Gordon
Mary Gordon View biography
With university qualifications in science, wildlife and park management and occupational health and Safety, Mary Gordon has had a career full of variety. From caring for reptiles at the Museum of South Australia and looking after visitors to the Northern Territory Wildlife Park to running an ecology project at the University of Melbourne and setting up her own vineyard, Mary has had a range of roles across Australia. Having returned to South Australia, Mary is thrilled to be able to educate visitors about her homeland.
Profile Image of Russell Boswell
Russell Boswell View biography
Russell Boswell is the manager of savannah guides and savannah way limited. A long-term Cairns resident, Russell’s background is in education and marketing. His tourism career has included group and safari operation, magazine publishing and training local experts. Russell sits on several industry committees and has been the proud recipient of a Cassowary Award for services to Wet Tropics nature-based tourism.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
In A Sunburned Country
by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson revels in Australia's eccentric characters, dangerous flora and fauna, and other oddities. As has become his custom, he effortlessly imparts much fact-filled history in this wildly funny book. Included at the end is a short bibliography. This book is published as "Down Under" in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.
Chasing Kangaroo
by Tim Flannery
An ode to the kangaroo in all their splendid diversity and oddity. Revisiting his early love of kangaroo fossils, Flannery weaves engaging tales of his adventures on the trails of marsupials past and present with his travels and encounters with eccentric scientists and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Tears of Strangers
by Stan Grant
A family memoir charting the political and social changes of Aboriginal Australians over the past 40 years.
A Fortunate Life
by A. B. Facey
The is the extraordinary life of an ordinary man. The autobiography of Albert Barnett (Bert) Facey - farmer, labourer, jackaroo, WWI veteran - lived from 1894 to 1982, predominantly in Western Australia's frontier territory. Facey's story, published at the age of 87, brings to life his experiences as a child labourer, itinerant rural worker, soldier and Depression-era farmer. Despite the trials faced, he always considered he led "a fortunate life". It is considered a classic of Australian literature. It is one of Australia's favourite books.
Deep Time Dreaming: Uncovering Ancient Australia
by Billy Griffiths
In this important book, Griffiths investigates a twin revolution - the reassertion of Aboriginal identity in the second half of the twentieth century, and the simultaneous uncovering of the traces of ancient Australia by pioneering archaeologists. Deep Time Dreaming is about a slow shift in national consciousness. It explores what it means to live in a place of great antiquity, with its complex questions of ownership and identity. It brings to life the deep time dreaming that has changed the way many Australians relate to their continent and its enduring, dynamic human history.
Position Doubtful
by Kim Mahood
Since the publication of her prize-winning memoir Craft for a Dry Lake, in 2000, writer and artist Kim Mahood has been returning to the Tanami desert country in far north-western Australia where, as a child, she lived with her family on a remote cattle station. The land is timeless, but much has changed- the station has been handed back to its traditional owners; the mining companies have arrived; and Aboriginal art has flourished. Comedy and tragedy, familiarity and uncertainty are Mahood's constant companions as she immerses herself in the life of a small community and in groundbreaking mapping projects. What emerges in Position Doubtful is a revelation of the significance of the land to its people - and of the burden of history.
My Brother Jack
by George Johnston
The Miles Franklin award-winning classic. Through the story of the two brothers, George Johnston created an enduring exploration of two Australian myths: that of the man who loses his soul as he gains worldly success, and that of the tough, honest Aussie battler, whose greatest ambition is to serve his country during the war. Acknowledged as one of the true Australian classics, My Brother Jack is a deeply satisfying, complex and moving literary masterpiece.
A Town Like Alice
by Nevil Shute
Nevil Shute's most beloved novel, a tale of love and war, follows its enterprising heroine from the Malayan jungle during World War II to the rugged Australian outback.
A Commonwealth of Thieves, The Improbable Birth of Australia
by Thomas Keneally
With drama and flair, novelist Keneally illuminates the birth of New South Wales in 1788, richly evoking the social conditions in London, the miserable sea voyage and the desperate conditions of the new colony. His tale revolves around Arthur Phillip, the ambitious (and bland) captain in the Royal Navy who would become the first governor of New South Wales. You may be familiar with Keneally as the author of the acclaimed work (made into an equally-renowned film) "Schindler's List".
by Peter Fitzsimons
The Shipwreck of the Batavia combines in just the one tale the birth of the world's first corporation, the brutality of colonisation, the battle of good vs evil, the derring-do of sea-faring adventure, mutiny, ship-wreck, love, lust, blood-lust, petty fascist dictatorship, criminality, a reign of terror, murders most foul, sexual slavery, natural nobility, survival, retribution, rescue, first contact with native peoples and so much more. Peter Fitzsimons has long maintained that this is "far and away the greatest story in Australia's history, if not the world's."
Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
by Ken Simpson • Nicholas Day
A handbook and field guide to Australia's birds with 2,000 vivid color illustrations, each accompanied by a brief description and revised range map. This more compact seventh edition features 16 new or revised color plates, new maps and condensed information.
Dark Emu : Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture
by Bruce Pascoe
History has portrayed Australia's First Peoples, the Aboriginals, as hunter-gatherers who lived on an empty, uncultivated land. History is wrong. Using compelling evidence from the records and diaries of early Australian explorers and colonists, Bruce Pascoe reveals that Aboriginal systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia's past is required - for the benefit of us all. Dark Emu, a bestseller in Australia, won both the Book of the Year Award and the Indigenous Writer's Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
My Brilliant Career
by Miles Franklin
A fierce, irreverent novel of aspiration and rebellion that is both a cornerstone of Australian literature and a feminist classic. Miles Franklin began the candid, passionate, and contrary My Brilliant Career when she was only sixteen, intending it to be the Australian answer to Jane Eyre. But the book she produced - a thinly veiled autobiographical novel about a young girl hungering for life and love in the outback - so scandalised her country upon its appearance in 1901 that she insisted it not be published again until ten years after her death.
My Place
by Sally Morgan
In 1982 Sally Morgan travelled to her grandmother's birthplace, Corunna Downs Station in Western Australia. She wants to trace the experiences of her childhood andolescence in Perth in the 1950's. Through memories and images, hints and echoes begin to emerge and another story unfolds - the mystery of her aboriginal identity. Gradually her whole family is drawn in to the saga and her great-uncle, her mother and finally her grandmother tell their stories in turn. My Place is a work of great humour, humanity and courage.
True History of the Kelly Gang
by Peter Carey
A powerful, daring novel, steeped in the colonial history of late 19th-century Australia. Outlaw, folk hero, thief and patriot, the Irish immigrant Ned Kelly and his clan figure large in the Australian mindset. Carey's Booker Prize-winning novel (his second after "Oscar & Lucinda") takes the form of a series of rough, captivating letters by the barely literate gang leader to his young daughter. Kelly was hanged in Melbourne in 1880, where his mother was also imprisoned.
Tirra Lirra By The River
by Jessica Anderson
One of Australia's most celebrated novels: one woman's journey from Australia to London and back again. A book about the sweetness of escape, and the mix of pain and acceptance that comes with returning home. Winner of the 1978 Miles Franklin Award.
Cotter: A Novel
by Richard Begbie
A strong story of banishment, displacement, and crucial first contact, Cotter tells of a moving friendship between two very different men, ultimately powerless against the forces of history.
by Bruce Chatwin
Rory Stewart provides the introduction to this 25th anniversary edition of Bruce Chatwin's celebrated travelogue, which is as much about its gifted author - and the meaning of travel - as about the Aboriginal people and their ways of life. Chatwin transforms a journey through the Outback into an exhilarating, semi-fictional meditation on our place in the world.
The Turning, New Stories
by Tim Winton
These 17 overlapping stories, steeped in everyday life on western Australia, follow the fates of a handful of characters in a small coastal town outside Perth. Winton, short-listed twice so far for the Booker Prize, has published a string of memorable novels, children's books and stories, all richly set in the working class milieu of the sparsely populated coastal desert.
Dirt Music, A Novel
by Tim Winton
Among Australia's finest writers, Tim Winton fashions powerful and elegant tales set within the arid outback of Western Australia. An alcoholic mother and a down-on-his luck poacher are the protagonists of this recent novel, where landscape and nature play just as much a role as the characters themselves.

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